Posted in Day In The Life, Giving

DITL Revisited

I quite enjoyed the last Day In The Life we did! It was really fun to see everyone’s Instagrams – if you would like to look back ‘pon it, check out the IFDayInTheLife hashtag. I’m @tinyotterpaws.

I actually had a pretty super-fun packed day so had lots to photograph. The most depressing photo has to be that conker though – already! It’s less than 20 weeks until Christmas. Time is flying past.

The winner of the Christmas cross stitch kit, by the way, in case you thought I’d forgotten, is Rebecca. Yay!

Posted in Giving

Giveaway – Christmas In August

Christmas Ornament Cross Stitch Kit From The Bellwether

I’m giving away this little Christmas ornament kit as he’s the last of a discontinued line. I have been hanging on to him, thinking I’ll get round to stitching him up for myself one day, but because I’m nice like that, one of you good people can have him instead.

To enter this fine contest, simply leave a comment below – you can say hello or tell me something exciting, or leave a link to something interesting you’ve read lately. There will be extra brownie points for retweets, shares, etc. I’ll put all the names in a real-life hat next week and pick a winner. This is open internationally, because it’s nice to be nice.

Bonne chance!

Posted in Living

#BEDM 1. Intro

Blog Every Day in May badge

I did the Blog Every Day In May challenge last time around (or was it two times ago? I can’t remember) and quite enjoyed it, so I signed up again this year. Of course, I’ve had a pretty busy week since I decided to do so, so haven’t gotten round to even starting it until now. So I’m blogging retrospectively every day in May for a bit.

The first set topic is to introduce yourself, so for anyone who hasn’t been reading this for years, firstly, you’ve really missed out (ho ho, not) and secondly, here’s some fascinating facts you might not know about me already.

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1. My day job is in television – it sounds exciting but it’s really not anything than a relentless endurance test of the soul, mind and body. I work in Access Services which is providing subtitles, audio description and sign language translation for most of the UK’s broadcasting companies (everything except ITV and Channel 5, basically). I used to be a live and pre-recorded subtitler but I’m now a duty manager, planning who does what and then making sure it all happens. It’s all the stress of live television but none of the glamour.It’s long hours, stressful at times but you do get to watch a lot of telly. Sometimes, I remember that we’re providing a magical service to some people who would be lost without it and that makes me happy. I’m really great in a crisis though, as a result of my job. It’s the one thing I can blow my own trumpet about without cringing – bring me a problem and I can think of 5 ways to creatively tackle it quickly. It’s why I think I am pretty awesome at my job.

2. I’ve been running my own business for over 10 years. Some aspects of it I really like, some I don’t. Some days, I have an overwhelming urge to pack it all in and never think of it again and others I want to drop everything and immerse myself in it. Lately, I’ve been enjoying not worrying much about it and taking time to create things for myself or friends. It’s made me remember that it can be fun and relaxing to cross stitch!

3. After vowing never to buy another house, I recently did. Other things I’ve vowed never to do include: get married (11 years this year), sell on Etsy again (considering a return for the VATMOSS headache for my patterns), go in a hot air balloon (so far, so good).

4. My brother lives in Siberia. I was hoping that he’d blog/instagram more when he moved there, but so far, all he’s done is talk about the weather and ask us to post him gravy granules. It’s not as cold as you’d think it is there but it is apparently a lot harder to make a stew than you’d guess.

5. My husband and my dog are both Welsh. I’m outnumbered by Welsh males in our house. We sort of rescued our dog, Max. He was taken in by a 93 year-old lady in the Lake District after his original owners had to give him up the day they were moving house. He’s a big Labrador, and quite active, so he soon proved too much for even a sprightly almost-centenarian. We were starting to think about getting a puppy when my friend Sarah suggested that we drive down and meet Max. We agreed, on the understanding that we were not taking him home with us that day. A few hours later, we were driving back with him in the back because he was just adorable. He’s really a massive part of the family and I can’t imagine life without him. I’m forever grateful to Sarah’s parents living next door to the old lady who took him in.

6. I really like giving things to people, gifts, unwanted possessions, etc. I am always the one who brings cakes into work. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I am forever giving things away. I just like making people happy in small ways.The joy of gift-giving is something I’ll never tire of. I like helping people find great gifts for people that are really well-suited to them.

7. I really like driving. I only passed my test a few years ago, later in life, and since then, I’ve become quite a confident driver. However, the past month or so, I’ve had a string of incidents where I’ve been completely abiding by the rules of the road and other drivers (all male, all white BMW/Audi/van drivers) have cut me up and then verbally abused me rather rigorously, which has knocked my confidence a bit. I’ve started driving different routes to work to mix it up a bit, but it’s really stuck with me and I hope my stupid brain lets me forget it soon or it will be sad that I’ve let them fuck my mojo up.

8. I do all my best thinking in water. I can spend hours in the bath, or in a pool, and a lot of my best ideas have come from wallowing in water. I’d love to swim more but I don’t often get the time. I’m a Pisces, of course.

9. I’d love to live in America one day. My family in Cincinnati really want us to go out there, too, but we’ve been unable to secure jobs/visas so far. I firmly believe that it will happen one day though. Until then, we’ll just make do with frequent trips there. Next time, I might even pluck up the courage to try driving on the wrong side of the road.

10. I really like horses. I enjoy a trip to the baseball. I love the beach. I’m addicted to Coca Cola. I lived in Thailand for a bit a few years back. I have an irrational hatred of lollipop ladies. I could happily eat soup for breakfast and toast for dinner. I’m a bit addicted to Netflix, too.I don’t eat fish or seafood of any kind because ewww, it’s been in the sea and I’ve peed in there. I just want everyone to get along and have a quiet life, really.

FIN.

Posted in Giving, Travel

Shit Happened

Some more stuff I enjoyed, Stateside:

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Pottering around my cousins’ beautiful home and admiring their many trinkets, antiques and pieces of art, including this tiny scrimshaw box and this vintage tin from the factory my uncle managed back in the day.

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Walking into Anthropologie and realising the whole shop was 20% off and managing not to lose my shit.

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Enjoying several amaretto sours made by Jim, my cousin’s husband – he mixes a mean cocktail.

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Watching telly, feasting on choc-ices.

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Having dinner at Brio one night, which was all lit up outside like Christmas (it was quite cold, too).

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Seeing a real-life possum in the wild (ie on the patio) and being grossed out – these are some  much more photogenic squirrels. The one without the tail is called Stumpy and is the butt (ho ho) of many in-jokes.

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Carol singing in Fountain Square – again, SO super-Christmassy.

 

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Gimpsing New Riff Distillery and having a pang of missing Lee, who on our last trip, booked a bottle of bourbon from their first distillation – we have to go back in 4 years to collect it.

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This pleasing display in Target.

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Awesome sunset on the way home from somewhere. So vivid.

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Enjoying an evening of culture at Pendleton Arts Center to see their Final Friday studio tour – we saw a lot of mediocre art, but also some cool stuff. These self-portraits were very  much, to me, in the former camp. Pendleton also wins the award for most 80s logo ever.

 

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Going to Cheesecake Factory and not being able to eat any cheesecake because we had lunch beforehand – forgot about their mahoosive portion sizes.

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Eating at hot-ticket restaurant Nada and enjoying some awesome barbacoa tacos, guac and chips for brunch before hitting up the City Flea Small Mall – a truly excellently curated and well set up craft fair at the 21C Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.

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Sneaking in some Dojo gelato at City Flea – so tasty.

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Coveting this full size sleeping bag suit that you can climb into and be the cosiest ever in – built-in snack pockets and a hood all for $130. Was v tempting…

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Hanging out with a whip-smart, funny, beautiful teenager who was just a delight – I wish I’d been so smart at that age! We had a lovely time at brunch and shopping together with our respective mothers and Anne.

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Getting a glimpse of the old Keebler factory that my uncle managed – he invented the plastic tray in some biscuit packets there, you know. You’ve him to thank for your biscuits not being broken.


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Eating the best doughnuts (and cronuts!) ever – Buskens, you must start shipping to Scotland NOW.

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Walking down and then back up these very confusing stairs at the 21C Hotel.


16012217795_535659afd5_zSeeing Paul Blart Mall Cop in the flesh.

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Enjoying drinks by the outdoor fireplace.

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Going bourbon shopping for Lee and having to keep my mum off the merchandise.

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And generally, just enjoying the festive season with my American family.

Now, one final piece of giveaway business to take care of – and to prove it really is random, The Crafty Lass, your name came out the hat (ie random.org) again, so the crochet books will be winging their way to you, too! Yay.

I think I’ve already identified another couple of giveaways to come, once I start giving things away, I find it very hard to stop.

 

Posted in Giving, Travel

Eat It

It’s no secret that quite a lot of my time spent in America is spent eating. It truly is the land of plenty – so much to choose from, but only 3 meals a day to fit it into. Creativity is required to fit everything in. Before we go over, usually Anne, my cousin, will ask us for a list of “must-eats”, so she can plan a loose schedule to take in as many of the spots on our wishlist as possible. Anne, like me, is a professional planner, we love a list, and we love to tick things off it!

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Skyline Chili is one of the must-do things in Cincinnati. The city is famous for its chili, but it’s not chili as you know it. It’s spiced with cinnamon, cloves and other strange things to give it a slightly sweet but definitely savoury taste. Some critics have described it as “quintessentially American”, others have called it “the worst regional American food” there is, but it’s a definite must-experience when you’re dining in Cincinnati. Traditionally for our family, it’s a lunchtime thing – we’ll meet Anne from work and have Skyline at the restaurant next to her office, and also it’s an on-the-way-to-the-airport snack to fortify you for a transatlantic flight.

 

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ihop, or International House Of Pancakes to give it its Sunday name, is another place frequently on our list. Who knew there were so many breakfast options? I particularly like breakfast in America as they are a) so accommodating with substitutions, no eggs, etc b) are quite happy for you to order a bunch of sides c) their bacon is just the best and d) you can have as many drinks refills as you like and then they’ll give you another drink in a cup to go at no extra charge.

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Mulled cider for breakfast? Aye, go on then. Start your day off with a festive swing. I usually have these chicken florentine crepes and they are just amazing, though not all that to look at.

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New to me this time – Frisch’s Big Boy:

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The tartare sauce is the thing here – it’s mighty tasty. A bit like Big Mac sauce but way better. Their onion rings were a solid 7/10.

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And of course, no trip to the States is complete without at least one visit to Five Guys, the best burgers there are. Their first Scottish location opened in Glasgow last week though, so now it may drop off the list, as we’ll be able to go whenever we like – yay! Not yet though, as apparently the queues are horrendous. I think it’s worth waiting for, they’re really delicious, good quality, well-cooked and I just like their ethos.

I’m probably not finished talking about food yet, but for now, I’ll leave it there. The Crafty Lass, you’re the winner of the Christmas giveaway!

Posted in Giving

Winter Wonderland

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas round here. This is the current view from my  kitchen window. It sounds pretty idyllic to have your kitchen in a conservatory, but to be honest with you, it’s always bloody freezing in there. Probably just about worth it though for views like this. So picturesque!

I had an amazing time in America, I have so much to write about, but also, so much to do. I am keen to announce the giveaway winners though, so the first one, who wins this bundle, is Rainbow Fizz 21, who blogs over here. Email me your address to [mrspiquante at gmail dot com]!

I’ll post back soon with more winners and more snowy pics. I love the wintry weather!

Posted in Giving

Cute Crochet Competition!

 

One last bundle of giveaway goodies to go, and this time it’s crochet-tastic. I can’t crochet. I tried once and it basically looked like I had just tied a bunch of knots in a bit of wool. These books are all WAY beyond my skills, so it’s time for them to go. Amigurumi – who am I kidding?!

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Want to win? Click over to my Not On The High Street shop and tell me what your favourite item of mine is there. Leave a comment below to let me know!

Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!

I think that might be it…for now! But do remember to come back for winner info. And also, just to see me, you know. Let’s be pals.

 

Posted in Giving

Loosely Christmas Themed Giveaway

Are you all giveawayed out yet? I hope not, there is still more to come…

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This time, the little bundle comprises a small selection of loosely Christmas themed decorative items, including one of my very own puddings.

To win this bundle, simply follow me on Instagram (@tinyotterpaws) and leave a comment with your username.

Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!

Still hanging in there? There’s one more to come! Stay tuned!

 

Posted in Giving

A Nice Cup Of Tea Giveaway

 

 

 

I don’t even drink tea or coffee, but I sure cross stitch a lot about it. But I realise I am in a minority there. Most people I know love a good cup of char, as they insist on saying.

This giveaway has a little theme of tea time, very loosely. In reality, it is a wee collection of things I have gathered that I really love but would like someone else to enjoy, rather than remaining in a drawer in my office, waiting for daylight. I just can’t keep all the nice things and not do anything with them.

  • IMG_2543A Nice Cup Of Tea book
  • Nikki McWilliams foiled print
  • Washi tape
  • Letterpress coasters
  • Thai ceramic birds
  • Jonathan Adler notebook
  • Vintage Czech matchbox notecards

A nice wee selection, eh?

Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!

There is still more giving away to come. I know, I am a very benevolent ruler.

 

Posted in Giving

Stationery Giveaway

 

 

 

 

There are several things that bug me, okay, several million things, but one of them is the confusion between stationery and stationary. It isn’t too difficult to remember that stationery is envelopes and stationary means you are not moving, but it is something that some people just cannot get a handle on.

Particularly annoying to me is when you spot a neat design online, you click through to the designer’s (inevitably Etsy) shop and  they describe themselves as a “stationary designer” – UNFOLLOW. If you can’t spell it correctly, you sure as hell shouldn’t be selling it. GAH.

Anyway, I do love stationEry. I quite like remaining still, too, to be fair. I’ve amassed a small collection of papery things that I must offload, and so, here we are with giveaway numero dos!

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Here we find:

  • Various kawaii stationery, including Tenorikuma and Hello Kitty letter sets
  • Paul Frank letter set
  • Jonathan Adler notebook
  • Laura Donald Eastenders notecards
  • Milk carton plush purse
  • Sharpie PENCILS.

Amazing. This time, to be in the draw, please follow me on Twitter (I’m @tinyotterpaws) and then leave a comment below with your username. Simple.

Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!

Still more giving away to be done. Keep it dialled in here.

 

Posted in Giving

A Million Things To Give Away

I’ve been such a bad blogger this year. I’ve just been flat out busy and I haven’t had time to devote to the frivolity of chronicling my life. Lately, I’ve been working a lot, helping my friends open their new business venture in Glasgow, travelling, doing custom work… despite ostensibly closing up my business in July, I’ve actually been busier than ever!

One thing though that I have been quietly doing in small stages is shedding extraneous possessions – a whole car load went off to the charity shop last month and I’ve been ebaying clothes and books and all sorts of fancy unguents I’ve never used. I find it quite cathartic.

Whilst I’ve been parting with things, I’ve found quite a large stash of stuff I’ve been saving to give as gifts, or things people have given me that I couldn’t bear to part with but have come to realise I am never going to use (please don’t be offended if  you gave me any of these things, I just want to pass them on to someone who will use them rather than hoard them magpie-like, as I do). To this end, I have a whole series of giveaways lined up and this is numero uno!

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The first prize pot is pictured here, and includes:

  • Knitted Cakes and Everything Oz books.
  • Jonathan Adler bee notebook.
  • Kawaii burger cross stitch by me.
  • Anthropologie push pins.
  • An array of stickers, badges and sewing notions.
  • Tiny sugar/trinket pot

Would you like a little parcel of joy in the mail? This could all be yours – just leave me a comment below and I’ll add your name into the hat. I’ll draw a winner once I return from the States – I am going to spend Thanksgiving with my family there, exciting!

Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!

Do feel free to Twitter about the giveaways – the more, the merrier! And I have a bunch of other giveaways lined up in the coming weeks – so stay tuned!

Posted in Indie Business, Random Utterings

Lately

Several things to note:

The winner of my embroidery giveaway has not been in touch, so I’ve picked another one. You snooze, you lose.  The second winner is Jules. Drop me a line, I’ll post out your loot.

I’m going to be doing a (birth)day in the life on Monday 11th March. Do join in if you can. Here’s what it’s all about.

And last but not least, I’ve killed off Miso Funky. The Bellwether is where it’s at now. Check me one time.

Enter The Bellwether's Facebook Competition!

As you can see, you can win large with a simple Facebook like. Click to it.

Posted in Making

Stitchy Giveaway

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I’ve been doing a bit of clearing out lately and over the weekend, I gathered together a bunch of embroidery and cross stitch stuff that I have no need of. Rather than list it on eBay, I thought I’d amass it into one package of awesomeness and give it away!

There are loads of iron on vintage cross stitch and embroidery transfers, some mini kits, a yellow 5 inch hoop, a thread cutter, some doilies for stitching on to and a whole bunch of other stuff, too. If you’re into recreational needlework, you should totally leave a comment on this post and I’ll pick one lucky winner to receive it all in a swag bag. Do it before the end of Sunday 10th February and I’ll stick your name in the hat.  Have at it!

Posted in Indie Business

Give It Away Now

I always find it tedious for both the reader (you) and the writer (me) when making such bold statements as I’m going to blog every day for a whole month, but that’s my intention. I should have picked February though, not a 31-dayer.

For today’s fascinating installment, I am merely going to say that I’m holding a giveaway over at Miso Funky, where you can win your very own cross stitch iPhone case.

 

 

You can enter here.